Friday, December 4, 2009

Our Letter to the NSW Minister for Health

At the completion of the walk, HEAL spokesperson and Blue Mountains Deputy Mayor, Janet Mays, handed the following Letter to representatives from the Sydney West Area Health Service. Now we await the reply!

November 29th 2009

The Hon. Carmel Tebbutt
Minister for Health
Governor Macquarie Tower Level 30
1 Farrer Place

Dear Minister

I write to you on behalf of Blue Mountains HEAL (Hospital Equity & Access Lobby) and the broader Blue Mountains community.

Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital (BMDAMH) is a cornerstone of our community and we need it to provide basic, primary healthcare services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Services such as emergency, maternity, paediatrics, orthopaedics and rehabilitation.

Sadly over the past 5 years, service provision has declined at our hospital and Blue Mountains residents are now routinely sent to Nepean hospital and beyond for services that were previously locally provided. This is simply not good enough when we have a refurbished hospital in our midst.

Mountains residents are routinely sent over 53kms down a busy highway for services such as x-rays, the treating of fractures and minor surgery. We are told that service interruptions and closures at BMDAMH are due to an inability to attract clinicians to our hospital and yet we regularly hear from clinicians who would willingly work at our hospital if the “conditions were right”.

Accordingly, we ask that the NSW State Government reclassifies BMDAMH as a rural hospital to enable the paying of higher entitlements to attract clinicians to the hospital. We also ask that the State Government directs Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) to do everything in its power to re-open the 8 beds that remain closed in the Rehabilitation unit. These beds are desperately needed by our residents.

Minister, we are not asking for anything extraordinary. We are simply asking that our hospital be allowed to function and that the tax payer funded refurbishments completed in 2006 be fully utilised.

Nepean hospital is important for Mountains residents for more complex healthcare issues. We do however require a functioning, local hospital for less complex matters and for the practical reason that Nepean hospital is stretched to full capacity and we have an idle hospital in the Blue Mountains.

76,000 residents and 3million visitors per annum need BMDAMH. We ask that you seriously consider our request for rural classification and that the NSW State Government makes this change as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Janet Mays
for and on behalf of HEAL

cc: Mr P. Koperberg, Member for the Blue Mountains
cc: Mr K Hedge, Acting General Manager Nepean Hospital SWAHS

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Walkers swear to continue Katoomba Hospital fight

by Michael Cleggett BMG

Mountains residents fed up with the decline in basic services at Katoomba Hospital turned out in force over the weekend for a 53km walk to express their anger.

In a rare show of cross-party unity, walkers were joined by Member for Blue Mountains Phil Koperberg and NSW opposition health spokesperson Jillian Skinner at Leura, who both vowed to fight for the hospital’s reclassification as rural.

A spokeswoman for walk organiser Hospital Equity and Access Lobby (HEAL), deputy mayor Janet Mays, said the joint commitment was a “major victory for the community”.

“Rural reclassification enables the paying of higher entitlements to clinicians,” said Clr Mays. “This would be a great step forward in our ability to attract doctors to our community” she said.

Walkers received encouragement from passing motorists who honked their support as the group endured the weekend’s warm conditions.

“Throughout the route people stopped to ask us questions and to lend their support to our cause,” said Clr Mays.

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